From the Pages of Vine Line: Part 3 of our Q&A with Theo Epstein
(Photo by Stephen Green)
For the January issue of Vine Line, we talked to Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein about the state of the organization. In part one of the interview, Epstein talked about his first year with the team and instituting the Cubs Way throughout the system. In part two, he spoke about the need for veteran leadership and the Cubs’ desire to add pitching at all levels. In part three, we talk playoffs. To read the entire interview, pick up the January issue or subscribe to Vine Line today.
VL: With one-third of the league now making the postseason, is it tempting to try to make a splash with a big-money free agent?
TE: There’s always going to be temptation. I think 30 teams face it every winter. There’s temptation to sacrifice a little bit of your future, whether it’s in terms of your best prospects or whether it’s in terms of future dollars that you want to allocate. You might not get the most bang for your buck in those future dollars, but gosh, that player’s sitting right there for you to sign. And maybe we’re just one player away.
The bottom line is there is a time when you’re one player away. We’re not quite there yet. We’re still in the mode where we’re building toward something that’s going to provide great results for us on a consistent basis year in and year out. We want to do it as much as we can with homegrown players. We want to do it with a nucleus of players who enter their prime together, who play the game the right way and who are proud to be Cubs. Then, at the appropriate time, we’ll supplement it with the right impact free agent.
Along the way, we’re going to sign free agents. We’re going to do everything we can to have a season like Oakland had last year, or Baltimore had last year. But I think you’ll know by the talent that’s on the field and under control and under contract for a long period of time when we’re about to go on our run and extend it and sustain success.
VL: If you are at or around the .500 mark halfway through the 2013 season, do you see yourself adding pieces to make a Wild Card push?
TE: I think any opportunity to get into the playoffs is something you have to take very, very seriously. If we’re fortunate enough to be in contention this year, I think adding is something we would definitely pursue. It’s up to us to really budget our money appropriately during the offseason so we do have a little bit of room during the season. But typically when you’re having a good year, attendance is better, and you generate more revenues. I know with the Rickettses’ commitment to winning, we certainly would be aggressive and stretch and do what’s necessary to supplement that type of a team.
The preferred route into the postseason is always winning the division, but realistically, as we continue this process of trying to get better and better every year and building a strong foundation, if we have things break our way and we have a realistic chance at the Wild Card, we’re not going to be picky about how we get in. We’re going to go for it, and get in that tournament because anything can happen in October.